Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

What happens when you have a surging Omicron variant and a busy travel season?

Trouble.

As many as 3.5 million people are projected to travel through Los Angeles International Airport from Dec. 16-Jan. 3, according to airport officials, making it the busiest travel period this year. By many accounts, airlines and airports have not absorbed the rebound very well so far, with staffing shortages, shifting safety protocols and rowdy passengers bogging down travel.

Now, with the Omicron variant spreading quickly and many travelers determined to forge ahead with holiday plans, months of preparation by airlines and airport staff will face a test at large airports such as LAX.

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Testing is also ramping up as families and friend get together over the Christmas holidays.

A healthcare worker hands out a COVID-19 test kit at a drive-through testing site at La Sierra Park in Riverside.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

“Rapidly, Omicron is overtaking Delta. I would say within the next two weeks, it’s almost all going to Omicron.”

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer

Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

A man swabs his nose at a Union Station COVID testing kiosk on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

People seeking COVID tests line up to access a site in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“We are experiencing the surge that we have been anticipating was coming.”

San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax

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Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

Travelers wait for their holiday flights at John Wayne Airport.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

Holly Goodwin, of Garden Gove, picks up a free COVID-19 test self-collection kit from the Orange County Health Care Agency after arriving on a flight Tuesday at John Wayne Airport.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Photos: Travel and testing ramp up as Omicron surge hits California during the holidays

Passengers in the arrival deck wait for shuttles at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)